Costco CEO: We Aren’t Ready To Set A Date For All Cage-Free Eggs Yet

Amid a campaign by the Humane Society and certain famous faces to push Costco to only sell cage-free eggs, CEO Craig Jelinek says the company is being unfairly targeted. Although the company pledged to go fully cage-free in 2007, he says Costco isn’t prepared to announce when that change will happen.

The Humane Society is lobbing another ball at Costco with footage of hens allegedly being mistreated going on display in the center of Times Square on a 1,700-square-foot billboard, Fox Business reports. Jelinek says that kind of pressure isn’t warranted.

“This has been going on for about two to three months. We probably are the largest seller of cage-free eggs in the United States,” Jelinek told Fox. “The society would like us to give them a timeline as to when we will be all cage-free and we are not prepared to do that.”

He says Costco only represents 15% of the supplier’s business that’s shown in the video, but no other retailers are called out.

But the Humane Society says it’s time for a firm answer, noting that other companies who promised to go cage-free have announced specific plans on that process.

“Costco should be a leader, not a laggard, when it comes to preventing animal cruelty in its supply chain,” said Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society’s Vice President of Farm Animal Protection. “Numerous other major retailers have already committed to getting rid of eggs from caged hens with firm timelines for doing so in place. Some include Burger King, Unilever, Aramark, Sodexo, and Compass Group.”

In addition, General Mills announced recently that it will eventually only use eggs from cage-free hens in U.S. operations, and Dunkin’ Donuts said it’s considering a similar move.

Costco released a statement after Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Bill Maher pushed the company to go entirely cage-free, saying that it’s “committed to the ethical treatment of animals” and its code of ethics is part of the company mission statement. In some cases, Costco said, cages are safer for hens.

“Some jurisdictions, such as California, have laws mandating that eggs derive from hens confined in cages of a certain size,” the company said.

Costco CEO Fires Back Amid Caged Egg Billboard [Fox Business]